The Cajun Classic is back in Baton Rouge and serving up the heat
BATON ROUGE - The best wheelchair tennis players in the world are back in Baton Rouge this week after a two-year hiatus.
The Cajun Classic is back in action, and these athletes are serving up the heat.
"We have 111 players attending this year and representing 21 countries from around the world and representing 24 of the United States," said Jennifer Edmonson, Cajun Classic tournament director.
And this year's classic is bringing in more collegiate athletes than ever.
"We've gone from three to four schools now to 15 in the last four or five years. Our junior teams are expanding. We had very few juniors in the past, and now we have 15 juniors here. So recently, I think there's just a lot of growth in the sport. And it's really exciting to see and be a part of," said Evan Enquist, head wheelchair tennis coach at the University of Alabama.
At least 64 of the world’s top-ranked professionals, including several Grand Slam winners, are looking to take home that prize money.
"I'm closing in on the one that's above me, but you just take it day by day. You have to play your best game. I think everyone is here for the win. Everyone's trying to beat, so we'll see how it goes and take it step by step."
Aniek Van Koot of the Netherlands trains five hours a day, five days a week. The fact that she's in a wheelchair doesn't seem to bother her, and it certainly doesn't slow her down.
"I'm world No. 3. I travel the world. I play all the Grand Slams. I won gold and doubles in Tokyo. In Rio in 2016, I won silver and gold. I've been on the tour for quite a while," Van Koot said. "I was born with my right leg shorter than left, and they made medical mistakes unfortunately in the hospital. So after 10 operations they amputated it."
Sharing her story, she proves that anything is possible.
"People that are in a wheelchair, they don't feel themselves as disabled. They don't look at themselves as disabled. If you're trying to get out more, try a sport—even if it's wheelchair basketball, dancing or tennis—because there's so much more possibilities than you can ever think. But just go out on the internet and see what there is, because there's more than the eye meets."
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